Slowness: 5 Things I Learned While Traveling With A Child

This weekend we went to a wedding in Boston. It felt like early May all weekend instead of deep June and it was glorious to be outside without much agenda. In addition to a lack of agenda we were in a beautiful part of Boston, on foot and traveling with a three year old. The result was an amazing examination of a slow paced life.

Our three year old companion was a head strong, confident little boy with a great desire not to miss anything. His authentic curiosity, inability to plan ahead and love of laughing made the weekend so special. I feel quite changed from our few days together. Here are the things I’ve learned.

1)   Productivity is overrated.

Despite my desire for a slow lifestyle and insatiable need for deep rest, I am a very fast mover. I always stay at home until the last possible second and end up rushing everywhere and showing up late to everything. So it goes. But when traveling with a three year old there is no fast walking, no speeding through hotel lobbies and hailing a cab to race across the city. Instead there is time to observe and giggle and appreciate life. A great metaphor was watching him push the stroller around the streets of Boston: running into trees, making people laugh, zooming over toes and all the while watching him feel so grown-up and proud. Living without an agenda makes life slow down and within that slowness there is the capacity for greater, deeper rest.

2)   We don’t laugh enough.

We are a couple without children and it is hard to be around kids on occasion and be helpful influences when the children love to be outrageous and make us laugh. Watching a three year old sip from an overly full glass or absent-mindedly wave a dripping ice cone is impossibly funny, but not really appropriate to laugh at. We found ourselves swallowing deep belly laughs all weekend. One particular lovely moment was receiving very serious, nutritional advice from our companion, who was opposed to large intakes of carb-heavy foods like bagels and breads.

3)   The world is a safe place.

An unexpected highlight of the weekend was watching out for two ragamuffin stuffed animals called Mouse and Boo. The two characters traveled with us all over the city and rested on every sidewalk, countertop, and floor.  Since I treat people all day long and touch lots of students’ feet, I’m moderately germ aware. I wash my hands when I walk into our home and try not to touch my eyes or mouth when I am out and about. But Mouse and Boo really changed my perspective on germs and dirt. Their exposure to everything was simply pure, unabashed and a healthy reminder that germs are not the enemy. Weak immune systems are the enemy. Exposure to germs and dirt only make us stronger.

4)   The importance of touch.

We got in late Saturday night and we were all exhausted at breakfast on Sunday morning. All of the adults were dressed and showered and on our best behavior but our little companion was in pajamas and very snuggly. He would slide over in the booth to snuggle or hug one person and then when someone else became available he would slide over and lean on them. He was tired, a little uncomfortable in his body and his need for love, affection and touch was simply greater than usual. His response to that desire was to act upon it. We all benefited from that outpouring of love. Which was a helpful reminder that almost all consensual, appropriate touch is appreciated by the person on the receiving end.

5)   Observation is the key to being in the moment.

Walking that slowly through Boston was very different than the three years I spent zooming around Boston in my car furious at Boston drivers and terrified for my life. Walking slowly through Boston exposed flowers, beautiful old trees, amazing architecture, intricate stonework, cleverly designed shop windows and lots of faces. We saw so much moving at that pace. It wasn’t tiring and it deeply fed our need for beauty. Those three days I was more fully in the moment that I have been in ages. I really got to see how beautiful the wedding was and appreciate reconnecting with old friends.


Image credit: bpstudiopro / 123RF Stock Photo

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